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Transgender man sues D.C. church and homeless service provider over denied housing

Written by on October 21, 2020

WASHINGTON (WDVM) — A transgender man is suing The National United Methodist Church (NUMC) and Friendship Place, a homeless service provider, over claims that he was discriminated against by not being allowed to transfer housing.

According to a press release from Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Seth Canada was denied housing in 2018 because of his status as a transgender man, violating the District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977.

According to the lawsuit, Canada was staying at a large group shelter in March 2018 when he applied for Friendship Place’s program AimHire to get help finding housing and a job. The lawsuit notes that Canada had an interview with Friendship Place that May, where he was told he was eligible to stay at St. Luke’s Shelter, which the National United Methodist Church runs.

A couple of weeks later, the lawsuit says Canada reached out about moving forward with the process and was told that St. Luke’s said “they had never worked with someone who is transgender and would need more time to think about it.” Canada’s lawyer said he reached out again, but was ultimately denied the housing, and offered alternatives that were not part of the AimHire program.

As a result, Canada continued to stay in the large group shelter for two years, contracting COVID-19 in the shelter in April 2020.

Canada’s lawyer said he hopes to hold the church and Friendship Place accountable for the discrimination, as well as emotional and physical damage that resulted.

Neither NUMC of Friendship Place responded to WDVMs request for comment.


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